Four Cleveland area women have filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio this month seeking class-action status to end the collection of sales tax on feminine hygiene products and give a refund of at least $66 million to female consumers.
The lawsuit claims the sales tax violates the Equal Protection Clause in both the U.S. and Ohio constitutions, saying, “A tax on tampons and pads is a tax on women.” The lawsuit also said women spend on average about $70 per year on feminine hygiene products.
“Women only earn 77 percent compared to their male counterparts in Ohio but are forced to spend a significant amount of their wages on these essential healthcare products,” Rep. Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, said in a news release in 2015. This tax cut would help “even the playing field.”
Sykes and Rep. Greta Johnson, D-Akron, both of whom are sponsoring legislation to end the tampon tax, support the lawsuit.
“We are pleased to see action being taken against discriminatory laws that disproportionately single out women at cash registers all across the state,” they said in a joint written statement. “At a time when Ohio women are fighting for equal pay, job opportunities and access to quality health care, we need to strike down and get rid of systemic economic inequalities that put females at a disadvantage from the day they are born in Ohio.”
So far, only 10 of the 50 states do not have sales tax on feminine hygiene products, according to a map from Fusion.
Two bills are pending in the House of Representatives that would also end the taxation of tampons and pads in Ohio.
“These are not luxury items and should not be taxed. This is another tax that they have to pay that there’s no similar association for men that have to pay it,” Rep. Kristin Boggs, D-Columbus, said. Five total bills have been introduced this year to attempt to end the tampon tax.
President Obama has also objected to the tampon tax this year.
“I have to tell you, I have no idea why states would tax these as luxury items,” he said in an interview with YouTube personality Ingrid Nilsen. “I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.”
“It’s pretty silly to tax menstrual products because it implies they are unnecessary. It assumes that people with uteruses use these products simply because it’s easier, when in actuality, menstrual products are a necessity for sanitary reasons,” Ohio University student Nina Richner said.